Scripture: John 16:12-15; Proverbs 8:1-4 and Romans 5:1-5
Title: Holy Spirit Growth
Proposition: Jesus shares with us we how the Holy Spirit can help us grow!
1. Jesus shares that there is much more to learn and grow - verse 12
2. Jesus shares that learning and growth is only possible through His Holy Spirit - verses 13 - 15
Grace and peace from God our Father this wonderful Lord's Day!
We are in the midst of graduation season. Students of all ages are graduating from Day Care, Kindergarten, Middle School, High School, Universities and Trade Schools all across our nation. Along with all those graduations comes all the pomp and circumstance of graduation ceremonies and in some occasions special speakers.
A few years ago, Mr. Charles Thomas Munger was asked to be the commencement speaker for the graduates of the University of California Law School. At that time Charles who goes by the name Charlie was 83 years of age. You may wonder, why did this very prestigious law school ask an 83 year old man to speak at their graduation ceremonies. What could he say to people in their early 20's?
Well, Charlie Munger isn't just any ordinary man. First of all, he is a man who has some very powerful and influential friends. One of his closest and dearest friends is a man by the name of Warren Buffett. Charlie and Warren have been working together for almost 60 years making millions and millions of dollars for themselves and for their investors.
Over his life time Charlie has helped run and direct some of the greatest companies in the United States including Berkshire Hathaway and Costco Wholesale Company. Charlie has also given away millions of dollars to all types of charities to benefit his fellow human beings and to make our world a better place to live. Just recently, Fortune Magazine estimates that Charlie's net worth to be approx. 1.3 billion dollars.
Not bad for a man who at the age of 31, found himself divorced, broke and burying his 9 year old son, who had died from leukemia. With all that heartache, Charlie could have ended up a drunk living on skid roll but he believed in himself, in his work ethic and in America. It took him 38 years of dedicated hard work, some great friends and a little luck, but by the time he was 69, Charlie was one of the 400 richest people in the world.
Charlie not only found success materialistically but also socially and domestically. He learned from his mistakes as a husband and in time married again. His second wife Nancy just passed away a few years ago. However, for 54 years they enjoyed a wonderful life together. They raised eight wonderful children together. Not bad for a guy out who was out on his luck at the age of 31.
One of the things that Charlie is known for is his great practical wisdom. That was one of the reasons the University of California asked him to speak to their graduating class of new lawyers.
Some of his pearls of wisdom are:
The best way to get a good spouse is to deserve a good spouse. - Charlie Munger
If you want to be happy in marriage, try to improve yourself as a spouse, not change your spouse.
Other people are trying to be smart, all I’m trying to be is non-idiotic. I’ve found that’s all you have to do to get ahead in life, be non-idiotic and live a long time. It’s harder to be non-idiotic than most people think. - Charlie Munger
Charlie's pearl of wisdom that day for those law school graduates fits well with our scripture reading here in John 16:12-15. Charlie told all of them -
"You're not going to get very far in life based on what you already know. You're going to advance in life by what you're going to learn after you leave here."
Charlie made that statement to men and women who had been going to school for more than 7 years past High School. He said that to men and women who had at least 19 - 20 years of school under their belt. He wanted them to always remember in life when it comes to knowledge, insight and becoming - there is always room to grow.
It's the same thing that Jesus shared with his disciples back then and with us this morning. Let's take a deeper look into what Jesus shares in these few verses.
I. Jesus wants all of His Disciples to understand that there is more to learn, to grow and to become - verse 12
In verse 12, Jesus shares with His disciples that there are some things that He has not been able to tell them. There are some revelations and truths that He wants to share with them but right now they were not ready to either hear them or understand them. Jesus wants them to know that there is much more for them to hear, to experience and to celebrate.
Now, let's stop and think about that statement of Jesus' for a minute or two. Think of all the things that He had already shared with His disciples over their three and half year journey together. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John share with us many of the things Jesus had already taught them. Things like:
a. The Sermon on the Mount - Jesus had taught them how they were to live out a life of everyday holiness - how they were to be merciful, meek, hunger for righteousness and be pure in heart. He taught them how they were forgive and how they were not to worry but always to first seek the Kingdom of God.
b. The Two Great Commandments - Jesus taught them how they were to love God first and foremost. He taught them how they were to love themselves and others.
c. Jesus had revealed to them the need for people to repent, to be redeem and to experience New Birth from above.
d. Jesus had taught them that True and Authentic Discipleship requires one to pick up one's own Cross and follow Jesus
In reading the Gospels, we might think that Jesus had covered everything. That Jesus had shared all the lessons and revelations that the disciples would ever need to possess and yet, when we read those words in verse 12 again we realize that these disciples still had more glorious things to experience and enjoy. Their learning, growing and transforming times were not over and neither are ours this morning. Praise His Name!
The same principle that Charlie Munger shared with those law school graduates, Jesus was telling his disciples back then and to us today. If we think we have learned everything we need to know, experienced everything that we can in the LORD, then we need to think again. We need to understand that there is no ceiling to how much we can learn from the Lord. There is no stopping point in how close we can draw to the LORD. Following Jesus is a walk of spiritual progression. It is a walk of progressive holiness and revelation.
We can see all of this fleshed out when we think about how we read, meditate and study God's Word for example. When we first start reading the Bible, it is common for us to think that after we have read it a couple to times that we will get all we need out of it. After all, that is what we experience with most of our reading. We read an article a time or two and we are done with it. We got all that we could get out of it.
However, the more we read, meditate and study the Bible the more we get out of it. The Bible is more than just a book. It is much, much more than just some words on a page. The Bible is God's Holy Word. It is God's love letter to us. It is living, it is supernatural, and it originates from the very heart of God. That is why no matter how many times you read a passage or a chapter or even a book in the Bible there are still things that we can learn or new revelations we will experience.
When Moses encountered the LORD at the burning bush, he asked the LORD a question. “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘the God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” (Exodus 3:13).
Remember what the LORD said to Moses? The LORD told Moses to say to them - I AM THAT I AM. Now, there is a lot packed into that statement but one of the key things God reveals to Moses is that the only way for anyone to know God is through experiencing a relationship with God. In other words, the only way we are truly going to know the LORD is to have an ongoing vital and growing relationship with the LORD.
We can go back further to the time in the Garden of Eden and see this being lived out in the lives of Adam and Eve. The writer of Genesis wanted us to know that Adam and Eve spent their evenings walking and conversing with the LORD1. In the cool of the day we read where the LORD would come down and walk with Adam and Eve. It was during those times that God would reveal more of Himself and His plan to Adam and Eve. It was during those times that they grew closer and closer to the LORD and to one another.
II. Secondly, we see that Jesus reveals to them that progressive spiritual growth is only possible through His Holy Spirit - verses 13-15
After telling His disciples that they were not yet able to learn everything, Jesus reveals to them how they can grow deeper, learn more and be more like Him. All of this will happen once the Holy Spirit comes. Through the Holy Spirit they will be able to grow exponentially in their faith walk.
Jesus earlier had made it clear that He was the only begotten Son of God (John 10:36) He also made it clear that as the Son of God, He did everything that His Heavenly Father told him to do (John 6:36). Now, Jesus is revealing to his disciples the work that will come through God the Holy Spirit. As you read Jesus' full prayer here in John 16 - 17 you see Jesus revealing to His disciple the Holy Trinity - God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
Jesus is telling his disciples their lives will be radically transformed once they receive the fullness of His Holy Spirit. Their spiritual lives will grow in ways that they cannot even now perceive. The Holy Spirit will give them guidance, direction, conviction, courage and comfort. The Holy Spirit will speak to them and teach them all the things that they will need to know in order to be God's witnesses.
What Jesus is saying here in these few verses is very simple and yet very profound.
Jesus is sharing the Key to the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth. Jesus is revealing to all of us the only way for us to experience life here on earth in its fullness. Jesus is telling us how each and everyone one of us can experience a life of righteousness and holiness here on earth.
Jesus died for all our sins. Jesus went to the cross so that we could be free from the both the penalty of sin and the power sin has over our lives. Jesus also died so that everyone could experience the life God planned for us all to experience way back in the Garden of Eden. It was God's plan that all humanity (starting with Adam and Eve) to experience a life of Paradise. Jesus' life, death and resurrection made that a possibility for us all. Jesus has paid the price for all of us to experience a life of salvation and sanctification. And the way we can experience that type of life is through the help of the Holy Spirit.
Through our own strength we will never be able to experience the joy and richness of this life without the help of the Holy Spirit. It is impossible. That is a fact. We can write it down. Jesus is revealing to His disciples that the Holy Spirit will be able to do more for them than He ever could through all His miracles and teaching.
What Jesus is wanting all of us to understand is the supreme importance of having the Holy Spirit in control of our lives. These disciples had been under Jesus' leadership and teaching for over 3 years and yet, the only way for them to really be who God wanted them to be was not to read more, not to emulate Jesus more but was to surrender to the will of the Holy Spirit and allow Him to infill their lives.
Jesus says it best in this passage and later on in His prayer in John 17 -
WE ABSOLUTELY AND UNEQUIVOCALLY NEED THE HOLY SPIRIT
WE NEED TO SURRENDER OUR LIVES OVER TO THE HOLY SPIRIT.
We cannot make it on our own. That is what Jesus is saying here in verses 13-15. To succeed in this life it takes more than just being a lifelong learner. It takes more than just filling our hearts and minds with spiritual teaching and knowledge. All of that is beneficial and it will get us pretty far but not far enough. We need the supernatural help of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We will never enjoy all the richness and fullness of the Christian Life without the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Think about it for a moment or two this morning. It's natural for us humans to need help. All of us are here this morning because someone gave us a lot of help along the way. Our mothers fed us and took care of us in their wombs until it was time for us to come out into the world. Then we were fed until we could feed ourselves. When we went to school there were plenty of people there committed to help us learn things like math, science and English. None of us are self-made. We all have had plenty of help.
The more we grow up the more we understand just how much we need the help of others. We can attempt to fool ourselves into thinking that we have made it on our own or that we don't need anyone but that is just nonsense. We all in our hearts know better.
If you climb really high on a ladder, you need someone to steady it and balance it. If you need your car fixed more than likely you need someone to sell you the parts or to put the new parts on. If you get sick or are injured you need a lot of people's help. All of us need help. We may say we don't, but when we really sit down and think about it, we all need someone to help us make it through the day. We only exist through the help of others.
And what is true in our physical world is even more true in our spiritual world. We need the help of the Holy Spirit.
Over the years people have tried to use the example of Hamburger Helper to teach what it means to have the Holy Spirit in our lives. Remember Hamburger Helper? Millions of us have eaten it over the years. Since 1970, it has been one of the most used products that Betty Crocker has made outside of their cake mixes. Hamburger Helper is that stuff that you add to some hamburger, water and milk and you can make a pretty tasty meal. It's not the healthiest of meals but it will fill you up. The main ingredients of Hamburger helper are pasta, sugar and preservatives. It doesn't change the hamburger but it does help it taste better.
Some see the Holy Spirit in the same light. They believe that the Holy Spirit works in our lives much like Hamburger Helper works with hamburger. The Holy Spirit is seen as an additive that makes us better people. The Holy Spirit is something we add to our basic human ingredients that enhances our lives. Spirit-filled people are better people because they have added the Holy Spirit into their mix.
However, the truth is the Holy Spirit is much more than an addictive, a so-called spiritual Hamburger Helper. The Holy Spirit doesn't just add something to our lives, the Holy Spirit transforms our lives from the inside out. John the Baptist preached in John 3:12 that the Holy Spirit is a consuming fire which can consume our sins and cleanse our hearts.
The Holy Spirit is also the breath of God. Even as Adam was brought to life with God's breath, God's Holy Spirit, Jesus told Nicodemus that we must be born from above, we must be born through the power of the Holy Spirit. In other words, when we are saved we are brought into the new life by God's Holy Breath, God's Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit also enables us to truly communicate and commune with one another. Through the Holy Spirit we can become one, with God, with ourselves and with one another. The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to possess agape love. The Holy Spirit teaches how to create and enjoy Konia fellowship.
The Holy Spirit is more than some type of Spiritual Hamburger Helper. To be filled with the Holy Spirit requires much more than just adding something on to our lives. To be filled with the Holy Spirit comes when we totally surrender ourselves over to the LORD. We cannot be filled with God's Holy Spirit unless we surrender everything over to the LORD. Then we are to listen and walk in the paths that the Holy Spirit leads us. The Spirit will teach us, convict us, cleanse us, guide us and comfort us.
One of the reasons St. Luke wrote the Book of Acts was to visually show us a picture of how all of this happens. On the day of Pentecost, 120 of Jesus' most committed disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit. Immediately they began to react in new and wonderful ways. Their lives were filled with signs and wonders beyond imagination. They began to walk a whole new life - a life in the Spirit. They began to live an adventure led by the Holy Spirit of God.
Too often we see the act of salvation and the receiving of the Holy Spirit as an end to our spiritual process. We are saved - we are born again - now we don't really don't have to do anything more or learn anything more. We are good to go. We are filled with God's Holy Spirit and we are a finished product. All we have to do now is to live out our lives until God calls us home. What we want to do after that is our own doing. We call the shots.
Nothing could be further from the truth. What happened after the Children of Israel were freed from the land of Egypt? What happened to them after they received the 10 Commandments and the TORAH? What happened to the disciples after they received the Holy Spirit?
What happened to all of them was they experienced a life change that led them to experience even more life changes. The Israelites were free but they had no idea how to live as a free nation. For 400 years they, their fathers and their grandfathers had lived as slaves. Now, they would have to learn what it meant to be free and treat one another as free people. They had to learn how to enjoy a life of freedom.
After God gave them the 10 Commandments they had to learn how to live by them. They had not practice Sabbath. Their lives had been filled with all kinds of false gods - Egyptian and Canaanite. They had to learn how to get rid of any idol or false god in their lives. They had to learn how to tell the truth, how to not steal and how to keep morally and sexually pure. It took a great deal of time and a great deal of persistence and perseverance. They had to grow up in the faith.
The same is true of those who were filled with the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. They had to learn how to live in the Spirit and by the Spirit. The Book of Acts and the rest of the New Testament shares with us that there were plenty of mistakes made by all those who were first filled with God's Spirit.
+Ananias and Sapphira thought that they could lie to the LORD and not be good stewards. They thought they could hold back some money from the LORD and He would not notice. They lost their lives by trying to cheat the LORD and then lying about it.
+ Peter had to learn how not to be a religious racist and bigot. It took some time but the Holy Spirit was able to transform Peter's heart to reach out all people .
+Paul had to learn how to deal with some serious anger issues and being too judgemental
+John Mark had to learn how get a spiritual backbone.
+ Timothy simply had to grow up and allow the gifts that God to come to the surface.
+ Apollos had to learn how to be a team member.
+ Eudoia and Synthyche had to learn how to work with each other even though they did not like one another. Their personalities clashed but through the Holy Spirit they learned how to work together.
+ Philemon had to learn how to forgive people that had stolen from him and had hurt him deeply.
We must understand that there is a marked distinction between a pure heart and a mature character. The former is obtained in an instant while the latter is the result of growth in grace. We are filled with the Holy Spirit = YES. But it is in co-partnering with the Holy Spirit that we see a person's spiritual character come to maturation.
We fool ourselves if we believe that all God seeks for us to do is to be born again and filled with His Holy Spirit. Why that would be like thinking that once you were born as a baby you had fulfilled your destiny. We all know that life is more than babyhood or childhood. Life is it all - from the moment we are born to the moment we die. We are constantly changing, transforming and growing.
Today, if you are living in the Holy Spirit then you are experiencing all kinds of things going on in your life.
+There are some things that the Holy Spirit is convicting us about. There are some things that as we grow in the LORD that we come to realize are not good for us while there are other things that we realize we should add to our lives.
For example, the longer we walk with the LORD the more we will be convicted and convinced by the Holy Spirit that we need to be faithful in our stewardship, in our Bible study, in worship and in evangelism.
It's easy to tell when the Devil is leading us away from the LORD. He usually does it by telling us that we do not need to be giving so much to the Church or be so faithful in our attendance. He gets us to start telling ourselves that we know what we need to do better than God, our Sunday School teacher or our pastor. And when we listen to the Devil we find ourselves slipping back. We find our fire for the LORD waning and our passionate for our brothers and sister in the LORD waning. We find ourselves thinking and acting like we did before we came to the LORD.
However, when we listen to the Holy Spirit we find ourselves in line with those sheep that we find in Psalms 23. Those sheep were looking forward to feeding from the LORD and spending time in His Presence. They didn't want less of the LORD, they wanted more. They wanted to dwell in the House of the Lord forever.
+Living in the Spirit also means that we will experience some times of pruning. Jesus told us in his Parable of the Vinedresser that the Father is constantly looking how to help us produce better fruit. That means that the Holy Spirit will want to prune away any diseased or dead wood in our spiritual live.
+Living in the Spirit will mean there will be times that we will face Holy Spirit chastisement. Hebrews 12:6 reminds us that the Lord chastises those whom He loves. The Lord corrects those whom He wants to help be better disciples. He doesn't chastise us to punish us but because He loves us.
+Living in the Spirit means there will be times that we will face new revelations like Peter did in Acts chapter 11.
+And living in the Spirit means that there will be times that the Holy Spirit will move us like he did Philip in Acts chapter 8 out of our comfort zones.
What am I saying? I am saying what Jesus wants all of us to understand. A life in the Holy Spirit is the only way for us to enjoy all the richness of being a Christian. A life in the Holy Spirit is one in which we experience conviction, chastisement, cleansing, correction, pruning and celebration.
None of us came out of our mother's womb all grown up. I don't know why we think we are all grown up after we come to Jesus and are filled with His Holy Spirit. We are filled so that we can be restored into the image of Jesus. And in order for that to happen it takes us co-partnering with the LORD and practicing the spiritual disciplines.
If we practice the disciplines of fasting, simplicity, worship and prayer, we will soon discover some areas in our lives that need work. That is why we need the Holy Spirit and the community of faith. That is why we need the Holy Spirit and one another.
The Bible tells us that we grow with and through one another. We grow messy. We grow by sharpening iron with iron. We grow by leaning on one another and helping one another. We grow by loving one another and interceding for one another. We grow by realizing that we need one another. We grow by allowing the Holy Spirit to melt us together as His Church.
We don't grow by ourselves. We grow in the Holy Spirit and in community of faith.
One of the greatest chapters in the Bible can be found at the end of Paul's letter to the Church at Rome. Turn to Romans 16 and you will see what I mean. There are more than 37 individual names mentioned in this one chapter. And if we had the names of those that were a part of the different households then no doubt we would be in the hundreds of names.
They are listed there because they all helped Paul become the man he was meant to be in the LORD. They are listed there because they helped one another become the people that God wanted them to be in the LORD.
They were all part of a big community. A community that realized that no one except Jesus is perfect. A community that did not focus on the differences or what they could as individuals get out of something but how together they could be greater than they ever imagined. They believed that in the Holy Spirit they together could win the world to Jesus.
You know why people fight? Why marriages end? Why churches split and splinter? Why some people always have issues? It's all rather simple - we all suffer from being too selfish and we think we are too perfect. We like to play the part of God and judge and pronounce judgment.
The secret to success in this life is allowing the Holy Spirit to be the leader. The secret is for all of us to pour ourselves out like Paul did as a drink offering to the LORD. The secret is to allow the Holy Spirit to convict, to consume our sins, to consecrate our hearts and to form His Holy Community. The secret is to reach out and see what we can give and not what we can give. The secret is to realize that we are given our time here on earth to pour our lives out for the glory and honor of God and not to build our own little kingdom. The secret is to do as Paul says:
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14).
This morning, as we close and as we sing our song of invitation -
+ Today, do you know that you have been filled with God's Holy Spirit?
+Today, do you sense His work in your life?
+Do you feel his convicting and cleansing power in your life?
+Have you surrendered everything over to Him this morning?
As we sing our song of invitation let me invite you to come and receive God's Holy Spirit. Let me invite you to come and make sure that He is working in your life and that today you know that the Holy Spirit is in complete control.
1 See Genesis chapter three